Between Chiropractic Visits: Avoiding Back Pain at Work

How to Work Without Back Pain

Is sitting at your desk making you feel stiff and creaky, like you’re 100 years old? You can’t ditch the job, but you can make some small changes so you can get through the day with less pain. You are definitely not alone; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a whopping 34 percent of all lost-workday injuries and illnesses are work-related musculoskeletal disorder, including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, tendonitis and lower back pain.

Dr. Jeff Manning, DC, owner of Manning Wellness Clinic in Dallas, TX,  offers the following tips to stop your workstation from giving you any undue stress.

Adjust your desk height:  “If you are raising your arm up just to reach your keyboard and mouse, it puts your body in an unnatural position and can easily contribute to neck, shoulder and arm pain, 3 of the most common symptoms my patients report,”  says Dr. Manning. The ideal position for sitting and typing is when your arms form a 90- to 110-degree angle. If you need to flex your wrists up to meet your keyboard, raise your chair height or sit on a pillow. Just be sure that your feet aren’t left dangling. “Buy or create a footrest–even a cardboard box will do– so that your feet can rest on something,” Dr. Manning says.

Get connected:  If you spend time typing or searching for information online, while talking on the phone, a headset is a must. Cradling a phone between your shoulder and chin can put serious strain in your neck. “Again, this is an unnatural position causing excessive muscle contractions and reduced blood flow to the muscles,” explains Dr. Manning. If a headset is not an option, at the very least, make sure to switch the phone from side to side to even things out.” There are devices you can attach to the phone to make cradling it more comfortable, but Dr. Manning warns, “These do not significantly change the position of the neck and can give a person a false sense of security. ”

Get up and move: While dancing around your desk is not the best option, any movement–even a short walk–will do your body good.  Sitting in one place for an extended period of time puts strain on your muscles. “When you’re sitting for a long time, your back muscles tend to deactivate, which leads to poor posture and in time, to back pain,” says Dr. Manning. And he adds, “The lack of muscle activation in your back can also lead to shoulder and neck pain, a common complaint of many people who sit at a desk all day. Sitting in a slumped position creates tension in your shoulders and can overstretch your spinal ligaments, causing strain on the discs.”  Try to note the time and stand or stretch hourly. You can add shoulder and wrist rolls to keep things properly moving. To do shoulder rolls, sit or stand comfortably erect, and slowly roll your shoulders forward in large circles three or four times. Then reverse direction. Simple move, but it works wonders.

Uncross your legs: “I see patients often times who have much tighter muscles on one side of their body, and the pain is especially evident in their lower backs. In some cases, I even see rotation of the pelvis as a result of the strained muscles,” says Dr. Manning. “When we go over their patient history, they’ll say that they can’t pinpoint anything that would cause the problems. But with questioning, they’ll’ admit to sitting at their desks for hours, favoring one leg crossed over the other. If it’s the same leg over and over, that side of the body will show the effects.” Dr. Manning says it’s best to sit with your legs on the floor or on a small box rather than crossed. He suggests, “Put a Post-it note on your computer to remind yourself….that’s how important it is to uncross.”

Dr. Jeff Manning, DC, is the owner of Manning Wellness Clinic,  a top-rated comprehensive chiropractic clinic located in the heart of Uptown/downtown Dallas. We also offer massage therapy, acupuncture, and hypnosis. 
Manning Wellness Clinic
2702 McKinney Avenue, suite 202
Dallas, TX 75204